5 Reasons Why So Many Christians Are Feeling Burned Out Right Now

5 Reasons Why So Many Christians Are Feeling Burned Out Right Now April 30, 2015

Burned cross

I’ll be honest- I’ve really been struggling internally for a few months. It’s not something I’ve discussed publicly, but has been a frequent topic of conversation in my home and with some close friends/peers. I think a big part of it was simply winter– it felt brutally long and dark for us up in these parts, but I’ve also been struggling with just feeling generally and creatively burned out. Scripture says there’s a season for everything, and I’m certainly coming out of a dark season of my own. At least I hope I’m coming out of it, because it’s not a place I’d like to build a house or set up shop.

As I’ve been processing this and wrestling with some of things I’ve been feeling, I’ve come to the hunch that I’m not alone– I think a lot of Christians are feeling burned out right now. In the coming days/weeks I hope to write more about some of the proposed solutions to spiritual burnout, but in this first post I wanted to first try to flush out the problem (as I’m starting to see/understand it). So, here’s 5 reasons why I think so many Christians are feeling burned out right now:

 

5. The post-Christendom vacuum is (understandably) leading to endless debates and in-fighting as we wrestle for the future.

I think a lot of people fail to see the significance of the era we are living in: the emergence of post-Christendom. During the Christendom era the church was often paired to the state, where both jointly dominated over society– but that era of church power is now ending (and has ended in many other cultures). Many of us celebrate the end of this era because we feel that this unholy marriage marginalized Jesus and distorted the Gospel. Yet it does leave a cultural vacuum– and this vacuum is where many of us spend our time discussing ideas, theology, and the relationship between theology and a changing culture.  Anytime you have a cultural vacuum being flooded with a mixture of new and old ideas, you’re going to have conflict– and that’s what we’re seeing today. It’s not a bad type of conflict, but it can lead to burnout if we don’t manage our level of participation in it.

4. Destructive tribalism seems to be increasing, and we’re even seeing the formation of sub-tribes or splinter-tribes within groups– and this grieves a lot of us.

Christians have been breaking off into tribes since the early days- from the confusion early disciples had between following Jesus vs John the Baptist (John 1:35-37, John 3:25-26) to Paul and Apollos (1 Cor 1:2). 1500 years later we saw the magisterial and radical reformations, and since that time, we’ve splintered off into somewhere around 40,000 denominations. Even broad categories such as “progressive” or “evangelical” are now seeing an emergence of splinter tribes who often shoot their own people. This leaves many people feeling like there’s no place where one can just exist and wrestle in emotional safety- because you can get shot by your own folks just as easily as anyone else.

3. Another presidential campaign season is kicking off, and many of us are simply tired of the marriage between Jesus and American politics.

I’m not gonna lie: when the first presidential candidate officially kicked off the 2016 presidential cycle, I practically felt like I could cry because it feels like the last election just ended a few days ago. Now we have to endure another season where we try to decide which Christians are “real Christians” and which folks are “false converts” by which candidate the support or dislike. Regardless of what one thinks of secular politics or what one thinks of the appropriateness of a Christian engaging in secular politics, the problem that’s making a lot of us in the middle feel squeezed on all sides is the tendency for Christians to judge, ostracize, and write-off other believers on the basis of which candidate they like or dislike. We need to find ways to erase lines and pursue inclusion, but secular politics married off to Jesus divides his own people– you know, the people called to live in unity and love.

2. Following the counter-cultural teachings of Christ means that one is usually swimming against the current– everywhere.

Life within much of the church is anything but counter to culture. As we see in my example of politics above, oftentimes life in the church actually runs completely in line with secular culture because we buy the false belief that somehow Kingdom priorities can be aligned with the priorities of empire. Unfortunately, they cannot. Those passionate Jesus followers of today who are actually trying to live and be the words of Jesus are finding themselves at odds not just with much of the dominant culture, but at odds with the church who has spent almost 1800 years colluding with culture. Counter cultural faith is beautiful- but it can be tiresome, and that’s a big reason why so many of us are feeling burned out right now.

1. We’re craving authentic, real-world relationships and community… even if we don’t know it.

Being counter cultural and at odds with both secular culture and institutionalized church, leads to a form of isolation at all turns. Some Jesus followers are finding churches who are doing wonderful Kingdom things and who are refusing to collude with empire. Others are not finding churches like that and have to settle for “online” community because they’re often ostracized from a local body of believers. Unfortunately, for whatever benefits one gets from online community (and there are many), this is a lacking replacement for real world, show up at your door with a bottle of wine relationships.  Live this way long enough, and it’s a straight shot to Christian burnout.

I think there are a lot of reasons why many Christians- myself included- are feeling burned out these days, but these are just a few of my ideas.

If you’re feeling this way, what are the things that are leading you to this place? What suggestions do you have for mitigating some of the challenges a radical Jesus follower might face?

In future posts, I’ll be discussing my ideas as to how we can avoid (and recover from) Christian burnout, but in the meantime, I’d love to hear yours.

 


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  • This is a great summary and I’ve experienced the weight and weariness of these things myself – thank you for articulating this. I’ve found that as I focus on focussing on the kingdom work I am to be doing, that these have less pull on me. I’m trying to stay in awareness of the body of Christ at large, but not allowing all that is wrong mess up my days or what I’m to be about

  • Lana

    Thank you. Amen on the elections. When I saw all the fb posts about Hillary et all, I got all grumpy and started searching to flights for Asia. I do not want to be on the continent when elections are going on. I can’t handle it. I also completely agree with the feeling of living in a fractured religion. Really, the fractured part has been intense since the reformation, but since evangelicalism is falling, it is even worse. I frequently tell my friends I don’t want to have to convert to Catholicism or orthodoxy to find some sense of stability, I wanted to find peace within my own tradition, but I haven’t found it. I appreciate your thoughts.

  • Have you been reading my mind or living my life?

  • Shelley Tuttle

    I wed politics to my Christian enthusiasm for spreading the gospel with Jesus at its center rather than dichotomize the two. There is no such thing as secular anything really. “Love the Lord your God with all your mind, soul, body, and strength” my Bible says, not stay out of the fray of politics because Jesus doesn’t speak to those issues, and we can’t speak to them because we have to only talk about things of the “spiritual” realm. We need to get dirty for Jesus–yes, and that means debate and tangle with the naysayers who think Jesus isn’t a part of how our country establishes its laws and brings blessing to our land. The reason Christians are burnt out is because they are double minded about truth and are pulled by other Christians into feeling they are wrong for being involved in refuting the cultural ploys to take away what we have freely been given by “nature’s God.” We have a responsibility to weld our faith to our practice not only in loving our neighbor but in voting and arguing for the policies that Jesus would vote and argue for. I’m not burned out.

  • Trev

    There are in group arguments everywhere. Even amongst those faithful to the Magisterium there are arguments about what is more reverent etc.

    That being said; you should become Catholic nonetheless because crossing the Tiber is just a fantastic decision.

  • Liz

    These…and add to that a series of fractures and hurts at my home church. I’m feeling adrift, like I’m not sure where I belong. I hope that makes sense?

  • Aaaaand… there it is. There is EXACTLY the reason I cannot be involved in organized religion. I’m glad you love your scriptures. But your scriptures are not holy to people of other religions, and you don’t get to use them to pass laws.

  • Angela Vertuccio

    We are not alone. I too feel like you. Try and remember that we fight the same enemy, for the same King, no matter what banner you stand under. Find peace within knowing its more about ortho-praxis (what we put into practice and work to build up the kingdom here on earth) and less ortho-doxy. You are doing it my friend. Peace be with you.

  • disqus_NPAlq82CXw

    you have captured the zeitgeist well here. might be described as birth pangs, perhaps.

  • Jeff Preuss

    Birth of the next era of Christianity, perhaps?

  • steve5656546346

    What matters is what is true.

  • steve5656546346

    But being FOR abortion is demonic. It is a primordial evil. Any culture that kills its own off spring is near its end: it has lost hope, and is killing its future.

    Effective governance starts with supporting that which strengthens a culture, not destroys it.

  • steve5656546346

    For me, another huge issue has been the Pope: supporting us one day, and attacking us the next and seeming to support those who oppose us. (I’m not claiming that he does: I don’t know what he thinks, only how he communicates.)

  • trevor s

    I’m reading your book Undiluted; there’s a lot of ‘deja vu’ there for me; I was spiritually reared in the very buckle of the bible belt.
    As to being involved in the Body, I’ve spent the last few years looking for that; haven’t found much. I refuse to settle. Sorry. Been in there far too long.
    I did find a place in Cal for a year, but am now back in the southeast. Looked and visited, hung my spiritual head and walked out of some (respectfully). I have thankfully found another place, although it’s far to travel.
    Point is that christianity is a far far cry from what the man i follow calls me to. I refuse to settle. I’m probably older than most of your readers, but I’m actually maturing in my relationship with master Jesus, even apart from the fellowship with other disciples, and I’m thankful to him for it. I long for the family relatedness.. long for it.
    Keep on, bro.
    Never give up or give in.
    peace to you

  • What’s more demonic are those Christians who refuse to address the issues that lead to women having to make such a terrible decision. The vast majority of abortions are performed for financial reasons. Many times the women cannot afford to raise another child. Until we are willing to help out here, pay them a decent wage, take care of their medical expenses, etc., we Christians cannot legislate morality in this instance.

    Just because I believe abortion is evil doesn’t make me a good candidate for office. Right now it is just a political ploy to garner votes. Mark my words: Even with both houses of Congress being controlled by Republicans, abortion will remain the law of the land. There will be no significant move to make it illegal.

    What makes someone a good candidate to govern is wisdom, intelligence, a love for justice, and a love for the people one represents. Being pro-life does not figure into such an equation. I’d rather have someone who is pro-choice govern as long as that person meets the above criteria.

  • hersheythecat

    During my deacon ordination testimony last fall, I cited that I was a burned out Christian (glad I am not alone). Since then, I thought a new role would revitalize me, however I have not felt a relief from this, but more of a burden. I think part of it is, the noise from social media/internet/other media. On it, sects of Christianity have become the equivalents to a certain “think tanks,” rather than a collective of individuals with personal relationships with God. We vs. They. Good vs. Bad. Saved vs. Heathens. It’s exhaustive. The Bible is wielded like a weapon to bludgeon whoever disagrees, and after a while discourse becomes futile.This constant dissection of word or deed in order to be right, to be “liked” to be “shared.”

  • Brandon Andress

    I think the five you have been feeling are spot on. Number two really hit me yesterday as I had just made a new blog post about the self-sacrificial love of Jesus/martyrdom/and ISIS (http://brandonandress.com/2015/04/27/a-message-to-isis/) and was getting blasted… not just from non-Christians… but from those who identify as Christians. I thought- Man, you guys are suppose to be the ones agreeing with the way of Jesus. I got so discouraged and wondered why I even put myself out there. It can be an incredibly lonely place. It’s enough of a commission to take Jesus to the world… but to have to take Jesus to the Church too… overwhelming.

  • trog69

    And people like you, Mr. McPherson, are those that we nonbelievers can work with.

  • Jackrich Taylor

    I’ll just read this for the next few days and cry… I’ve felt at least 3 of these for years now… thank you.

  • Nailed it. <3

  • “…but in voting and arguing for the policies that Jesus would vote and argue for.”

    Where exactly do you see Jesus doing this in Scripture? The closest he ever came to addressing politics or encouraging his followers to do anything remotely political was basically “yes, you should pay your taxes”, and “if a soldier forces you to carry his gear, bless him by doing it willingly”. He was also pretty clear that his kingdom was not of this world, and should not be mistaken for any earthly form of government.

    “Myth of a Christian Nation” by Greg Boyd presents a compelling argument why attempting to marry the Gospel with politics is contradictory and damaging to the Gospel. Worth a read.

  • You had me at #5. By #3 I was tearing up. Just. So. Tired.

  • Scott_In_OH

    You are right on all of this except for the statement that there won’t be a significant move to make abortion illegal. There have already been many such moves, to the point where obtaining one legally has, in practice, become very difficult in some parts of the country.

    Roe v Wade may never be overturned, and there may never be a federal law outlawing abortion, but that doesn’t mean legal changes around the country aren’t making it less and less accessible.

  • Cory

    I had not even identified it as burn out. But I think you clarified it more for me. #1, Community. And yes I know it! I want to be with people that are seekers, who don’t need to have all the answers and may not have any. I want to hear redemption stories and be with people who care only about touching and healing the broken. We are all broken and need each others healing. Maybe much of it is a larger need for rest. From work, from technology, from striving. A Sabbath day, a Sabbath week, a sabbatical month or year. Blessed Rest.

  • James Matthew

    Concerning the statement: “Following the counter-cultural teachings of Christ”

    The only counter-cultural Christians I have ever seen are Franciscan Monks who own nothing and fulfill Jesus’ advice at Mark 10:21-22
    “Looking at him [the rich young man], Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, ‘One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.’ But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property.”

    I guess one could argue people living in Christian communes would also qualify if you read the above and link it to Acts 4:32 “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.”

    I anticipate your going to tell me reasons why this stuff isn’t to be taken literally, I am interested in such response. But to be honest it always strikes me as hypocrisy.

    In today’s consumer capitalist culture absolute refusal to worry about money would make you counter-cultural.

    So Christians would be counter-cultural if they followed their Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:25-27 “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?”

    But rather most Christians will yell at you if you even brings these verses up and then argue that somehow these passages aren’t meant to be taken literal but the words about the dead guy coming back to life after being thrown into a hole for three days – those are to be taken literal.

    So it just seems over 99% of Christians are identical to the “worldly” but unlike everyone else they like to brag about how “counter-cultural” they are.

    Placing your very health and physical existence in the hands of your Jesus by embracing poverty would be radical, in contrast the common practice of giving a certain percentage of your income to charity is a middle class norm.

    Christians come off as hypocrites when they behave like everyone else but call others “worldly” and declare themselves “counter-cultural”. Which is weird because Jesus especially condemns hypocrites in the Bible accounts.

    When the Pew Research Polls find that over 78% of American respondents claim to be Christians – a person is not counter-cultural by merely saying Jesus is god or he rose from the dead, over 78% of Americans would parrot those same words.

    With over 78% of Americans claiming the same world-view Christians are not some Isaiah out of their Bible stories – held to be preaching truth to power; if that’s the analogy Christians are like the people Isaiah was preaching to. There is no difference between 99.9% of them and the “worldly”.

    So please with your vast majority dominating the culture, give the rest of us a break with your constant talk of how “counter-cultural” you are – it just comes off as patting yourselves on the back for lying to yourselves. The culture is dominated by money and you can’t be successful at selling anything if you are going to alienate the 78% of Americans with a Christian world-view.

    Again if your in some commune or some hermitage, monastery, nunnery – please go ahead and talk about being counter-cultural because what you are doing makes that true; and thank you for doing your thing because bringing the fact that your able to do it is often the only way to get those other Christians to stop screaming that it can’t be done.

    To be sure I don’t give away all my stuff either, but then again I don’t
    call myself a Christian nor do I claim to be “counter-cultural”.

    Sorry if this seems a bit harsh, but its like listening to some kid in high-school who thinks he’s really “pushing the boundaries” by wearing denim jeans. Dude we all have denim jeans. You’re just like everyone else. If you want to be something extraordinary so bad you’re going to have to stop being ordinary.

  • QueenMab

    I’m so thoroughly burned out I may have lost my religion (so to speak) altogether. I am starting to see the Atheists’ points. I turned 49 on 4/29, and after 30 years of being a Christian (20 years of mainline then fundamentalist then evangelical protestant, and the last 10 of roman catholicism) I have freaking had it. I have had it with theological arguments, judgmental attitudes, arbitrary rules, apologists, liberals, conservatives…you name it. I used to love Jesus…now I wonder if it’s all just a myth. Hanging out with Doctor Who fans is way more enriching than hanging out with Christians.

  • QueenMab

    James,
    Your post was great. I agree. It seems that the ‘counter cultural’ Christians today (the one’s who refer to themselves as such) tend to be the Liberal or Progressive Christians. They like to say how they are not in league with corporate America and the Christian Republican Right. Like there isn’t a crap ton wrong with the Leftist Democrats. (I’m sick of them both! Yuck!) So, really, they aren’t Counter Cultural, they are Counter traditional American Christian culture. As someone who is not sure where her Christian beliefs lie at the moment (though I was one for 30 years) I can call B.S. on that kind of counter cultural idea. You are correct. The progressive Christians are living in the same USA as the traditionalist Christians (who think themselves as counter cultural). They have very similar lives, they just give to different charities or political campaigns. Not voting Republican or being pro marriage equality doesn’t make one ‘counter cultural’. You are right, there isn’t anything extraordinary going on. It’s just a different kind of ordinary. More than anything is a glaring lack of love for anyone not in one’s tribe. And it’s soul crushing.

  • Good for you, QueenMab. This happened to me 16 years ago. For me, it was that I was struggling with exactly those things. I took 15 years to detox from all the claptrap and stuff, and then a year ago God called me back in to Church as a free man – free from all others’ opinions, and free to concentrate on Him. God led me out of Religion and into Jesus instead. In my case I desired to be free from Religion but had a hunger for God, Real God, and He honours that. I have recently read that the Christians’ salt and light is *not* about being ‘different’, being a preservative to the World, but instead it’s about being interesting and fun to be with. This is probably why Doctor Who fans are more fun! (For me, it’s Star Wars….) Hope this helps.

  • QueenMab

    Tony,
    There’s ‘Real God’ out there? Really? That’s who I want. Your story gives me Hope. I am worried I will leave it all. I don’t want to be an Atheist…it’s not me. Yet, this religion stuff is killing me. Thank you for the take on ‘salt’. It’s perfect.

    Oh, and there’s room for plenty of fandoms. I’m a Whovian, a Star Wars, Star Trek, Marvel and DC fan…basically, I’m a geek. I want my faith to make me as happy as my fandoms do. That can’t be too much to ask, can it?

  • I think the church isn’t the church. You & I are church. I think as we move into a time where we are all surviving where the american empire is going more ppl will discover the reality of love jesus is showing us.

  • I think we are on the same page!

  • Matthew

    Religion and institution are the problems QueenMab. My hope is that as you unpack all the thoughts and ideas that are crossing your mind currently, you´ll consider the following as well:

    Jesus is not a book, not a religion, and not an institution. I too struggle greatly with religion and the institutional church, but it´s the person and work of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit that keeps me in the faith.

  • I love rod steiger in the role of pilot. I think he embodied the emotion of staggering when he said ‘what is truth?’

  • Matthew

    I have to say … I very much agree with #1.

    One who struggles with the status quo, one who struggles with institution and hierarchy, and one who wants to ask tough questions will always feel a sense of loneliness within the realm of the church. There´s simply no place to maneuver.

    For some time I was part of pretty conservative evangelical circles in America. When I moved away from the country and when I also became more progressive (for lack of a better word) in my patterns and thoughts, I lost all contact with those brothers and sisters. Sad really.

    Here in Europe … where I live at least … it´s still very much the same. Large, institutional churches that are very impersonal. It seems nearly impossible to find real relationship among brothers and sisters within the Body of Christ. Why I ask?

    Lord have mercy.

  • Shelley Tuttle

    Politics is an extension of our Christian civil duty as citizens of the country we live in. To only speak into our culture by doing “mercy projects” is cutting off a whole segment of how we must operate as salt and light in every aspect of our purpose. Jesus gives people passion in many areas, and none of us should dictate the terms for others. We should go about giving of ourselves in many ways to the betterment of all. Many Christians would like to hamstring us to a false gospel that perpetuates the notion that we must ONLY be involved in mercy ministry.That’s a rather unloving thing to do, really. Jesus cast out the money lenders. May God bless you in whatever Jesus has led you to do.

  • Ignatz

    You know what I’m burned out on? Listicles.

  • Carol

    I believe that there are 3 common reasons why many sincerely committed Jesus followers are leaving their institutionalized Churches:
    1.Dogmatic Absolutism
    2.Self-righteous judgmentalism
    3.Triumphalistic sectarianism

    There is also the problem of the commodification of religion (and everything else!) in America. Most ecclesiastical denominations have their own publishing houses which mass market educational materials that support sectarian theological biases. As all business majors realize, the secret to successful mass marketing is to seek and satisfy the lowest common denominator:

    In the beginning the church was a fellowship of men and women centering on the living Christ. Then the church moved to Greece where it became a philosophy. Then it moved to Rome where it became an institution. Next, it moved to Europe , where it became a culture. And, finally, it moved to America where it became an enterprise. –Richard Halverson, former chaplain of the United States Senate

    In a rare interview in 1967 with Thomas McDonnell, [Thomas] Merton pronounced that the great crisis in the church is a crisis of authority precipitated because the church, as institution and organization, has overshadowed the reality of the church as a community of persons united in love and in Christ. He
    now charged that obedience and conformity with the impersonal corporation-church are a fact in the life of Christians. “The Church is preached as a communion, but is run in fact as a collectivity, and even as a totalitarian collectivity. ~ George Kilcourse, ACE OF FREEDOMS: Thomas Merton’s Christ

    There is also the problem of our “national temperament.” Our collective American society tends to be more proactive than reflective:

    “(American Christianity) is more Petrine than Johannean; more like busy Martha than like the pensive Mary, sitting at the feet of Jesus. It expands more in
    breadth than in depth. It is often carried on like a secular business, and in a mechanical or utilitarian spirit. It lacks the beautiful enamel of deep fervor
    and heartiness, the true mysticism, an appreciation of history and the Church;
    it wants (i.e. “lacks”) the substratum of a profound and spiritual theology; and under the mask of orthodoxy it not infrequently conceals, without intending or knowing it, the tendency to abstract intellectualism and superficial rationalism. This is especially evident in the doctrine of the church and of the sacraments, and in the meagerness of the worship… (wherein) nothing is left but preaching, free prayer, and singing.” –Philip Schaff, a Swiss theologian, analyzing American Christianity for a German audience in 1854.

  • Marcy Taylor

    why be religious, why not be spiritual? being spiritual is far closer to God than religious which is closer to man.

  • Marcy Taylor

    for the record, being choice does not mean you are pro abortion. it only means you understand the ramifications of both sides and are willing to converse in an orderly manner

  • Carol

    You are correct, the faith and politics can not be separated, but neither should they be confused:

    Secular Political Activism = The Love of Power
    Sacred Political Activism = The Power of Love

    Link for Andrew Harvey’s Institute for Sacred Activism:
    http://www.andrewharvey.net/

  • Well said friend.

  • I think #5 is the root of much if not all of the rest of the list. You have the People Who Think Christendom is Still Here, the People Who Think It’s Gone but Want It Back, the People Who Are Glad to See the Back of It but Aren’t Entirely Sure What to Do Without It, and everything in between and outside.

    Post-Christendom is theoretically a great opportunity for us to define ourselves and our story in our historical context, but you have to be free to wrestle and get it wrong, and this is not an opportunity kindly granted by much of the church right now, probably as a means of either defending Christendom-ish paradigms or securing their own vision of a post-Christendom paradigm.

  • Madeleine L’Engle writes about being an “atheist for God” in her book the Irrational Season. I believe it was in the chapter the Noes of God. It might be useful? I know when I read it I had hit bottom and didn’t want to be a Christian any more. I didn’t feel so alone.

    Here’s a piece I wrote from that time that might be relevant to this discussion. http://katieandraski.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/Lordbegentle.pdf

  • Queen Mab and James, yes what you say sounds about right to me. I agree that we’re not really being counter cultural if we don’t sell all we have and follow Jesus. I take hope in what Jesus said when the disciples asked him who can be saved? He said Nothing is impossible with God. Richard Rohr is writing about this right now in his daily meditations.

  • #4…. so much… Thanks, Ben

  • When I have burned out on Christianity it’s when I’ve been surrounded too much by Christians for too long. Both my stints at Wheaton College and working in evangelical publishing were very hard on my faith. (They told us as first year students at Wheaton if we could be a Christian there, we could be one anywhere.)

    One thing that has kept me alive is taking the Lord’s body and blood every week. There’s something quiet and real and intimate between me and the Lord that takes place. He meets me on a cellular level.

    Another thing that I think might alleviate burn out is paying attention to self care, getting sleep, exercise, eating right and allowing for quiet, wasted time. Our culture pushes us to cram our schedules full and maybe that’s part of why our wells run dry. Being so busy, giving everything away, can set us up to lose our values, set us up to become addicted or lose our marriages. Maybe wasting time, doing little is a l counter cultural thing we can do.

    My husband and I shelter in an ELCA Lutheran church. Our pastors have fed us with their homilies and communion and just plain seeing us with the eyes of love. After a tough time with angry, full of themselves pastors, this has been very healing and restoring as though the littleness of our involvement has really been great.

  • Mr. Annoying

    #6 I am sick to death of explaining that “liberal Christian” is NOT a contradiction in terms. Its a message that people on both the right and the left refuse to hear. The former only hear the word “liberal” and the latter only hear he word “Christian,” and both act like I have said something obscene.

  • Daniel Bigham

    Great thoughts, thanks. This has definitely been the lowest year of my life emotionally, and there’s some good overlap to your points above. I think most profound is the feeling of being alone. We all want to feel a part of a spiritual body that we:

    a) Resonate with.
    b) Are inspired by.

    For passionate Christians who find themselves in a context where A) and B) aren’t happening, I think it can create an unsustainable context that can lead to a big crash. Whether that manifests itself as depression, burnout, etc, may vary.

  • @katieandraski:disqus
    I am speechless. That was extraordinary, and I am so grateful for finding you today.

  • gimpi1

    Cudos to you for spotting how feelings about abortion have been manipulated as a political ploy. Many don’t spot that.

    Also well-done for refusing to allow “single-issue” blinders to control you.

  • gimpi1

    No, what matters to the rest of us is what evidence you have for your truth. Just saying, “I know it’s true, so everyone else has to live by it,” won’t wash.

    Live by your beliefs. That’s great, no one wants to stop you. However, if you don’t have evidence, real, hard evidence, you don’t get to pass laws based on them. I don’t have to live by your beliefs, and without aforementioned evidence, I probably won’t choose to.

  • gimpi1

    I’m sorry, Shelley, but I have to disagree. It’s not right for Christians or anyone to try to give their beliefs force of law. If you can’t convince me, you have no right to compel me. If you wouldn’t willingly live under Islamic or Orthodox or Hindu laws, you don’t have the right to pass your specific beliefs into law. By claiming that “right” you are essentially claiming privilege and power over others. We won’t give it to you.

    Try to convince me. I’m reasonable. Lay out your evidence for laws or policies. Show me how other groups around the world have tried these ideas, and we can discuss their outcomes. Show me why you think a change is harmful or helpful without resorting to, “It’s a sin,” or “It’s what God wants of us.” I’ll listen. But I won’t let you rule. Frankly, I think it’s creepy that you want to.

  • DK13

    I’ve been in a similar place. For me, ending this kind burnout starts with a fairly simple premise (which happens to be the opposite of what I am seeing in nearly all of the other comments). Take all those ‘other’ christians out there, the ones you find yourself lining up against most often, and try focusing on what’s good and right about them rather than what’s wrong. Because you may find there is more there than you realized. What unites is good and holy, what divides is petty, banal and worldly. Remember this when the impulse to blame everything on the stupid fundies (or whoever) starts churning inside. “Has Christ been divided?” (1Cor 1:13)

  • gimpi1

    One thing I feel about all this as an outsider, it makes me keep my distance. If Christians are really serious about spreading their message, I think they would be wise to consider how all these purity-wars look to those of us on the outside. Out here, it looks petty, obsessive and mean. I mean, petty do you have to be to stop talking to a family-member who has doubts about your beliefs? How obsessed do you have to be to have long, running, intense arguments over wether or not women can wear pants? How mean do you have to be to call for stoning gay people or disobedient kids? (Really some, people call for that.) For some folks, these petty divisions and archaic cruelties are real hills that they are willing to die on. For those folks looking in from the outside, it scares us off.

    A question, if I may; do Christians involved with this behavior know that they drive people away with it?

  • gimpi1

    Upvoted for Whovian reference. I need a Tardis. Anyone selling?

  • Jeff Preuss

    When that question has been posed to many a person intent on using the “Truth” as a weapon, their response has overwhelmingly been in the vein of “It is not MY choice or responsibility if they reject God.”

    They truly don’t see it as them driving people away. They see it as standing up for their version of the Big-T truth, currying favor with Jesus, and damn everyone who doesn’t agree with them. Quite literally.

    I assume they honestly feel that there will be some non-believer out there who will not sense they are being bludgeoned with doctrine, and actually find something appealing in the fire and brimstone lectures. And if THEY convert, it will please God and make all the spiritual threats worth it, the end justifying some particularly horrible means.

  • gimpi1

    Thank you for the follow-up. I still don’t understand the mentality, but your insight lets me see what might be behind it.

  • Oh, that’s what I long for too! To be as obsessed with religion as Marvel and Star Trek and Harry Potter and all things fantasy. The magic and fantasy of these stories promises some king of hope…and I want to find that hope in God, too.

  • Jeff Preuss

    There is a large push to proselytize by any means necessary in some churches, and to some people that ONLY means barking Scriptures at people to tell them what they’re doing wrong. I personally think living as examples of our faith, as positive reflections of our God in the way we treat other people, does a much better job of “sharing the Good News” as it were.

    I think it’s easier for some to sum Christianity up as a clear-cut (to them) set of rules, and bark at others when they don’t follow them. I think it’s much more complicated (yet rewarding) to interact with and be good and kind to individual people based on their own merits, instead of lumping people into groups of Sneetches – those with and those without stars upon thars.

  • Snooterpoot

    I disagree, Marcy. Being pro-choice means we respect the right of a woman to choose whether or not to continue a pregnancy. If she chooses to continue that’s fine. If she chooses to abort that’s fine, too.

    The government should not be in the business of controlling a woman’s right to control her own body and determine her destiny. Those “small government conservatives” want a government that is small enough to fit into an individual’s bedroom but too large to fit into a corporate boardroom.

  • gimpi1

    Well, if people were proselytizing “by any means necessary” wouldn’t they be looking at what people want, what draws them in or drives them away? This has much more of the “preaching to the choir” feel to it. Barking Scriptures (cherry-picked and isolated) at people really will push them out the door, but it makes (perhaps insecure) people feel “strong” in their beliefs.

    I always say you can tell what people really want by their actions, not their words. If actions (like yours) interest people, help them, make them feel valued or cared about, then those actions say you care about about people, want to help them or interest them. If actions (quote-bombing, judgmental statements, attempts at control) drive people away, those actions say you really don’t want to reach people. You don’t care about people at all. You just want a stage to display your “devotion.” Other people are just props on your set.

    Your way interests me. That’s why I lurk here. The barking dogs? Not so much….

  • Snooterpoot

    So, your credo is, “God said it. I believe it. That settles it?”

    If so, that’s bumper sticker theology that requires no thought whatsoever and is insulting on its face (and not just to non-believers).

  • Snooterpoot

    Many Christians would like to hamstring us to a false gospel…

    It’s your interpretation of the Gospel. Not all Christians agree with your interpretation, and to call those people adherents of a “false gospel” is ridiculous and Pharisaical.

  • Brandon Andress

    That’s exactly right, because there will not be structures and facades to hold on to or hide behind. Reminds me of Hebrews 12:26-28 when he talks about how all of earthly things will be shaken and will crumble… with only one thing remaining- the unshakeable Kingdom. I am ready for the “shaking” to begin, so that all may see Jesus and his present in-breaking Kingdom. Thanks brother.

  • np_2007

    Well, the “burnout” I feel – – and lately every morning at the same time (c. 4AM) keeping me awake a few hours – – is this doomsday sensation.

    You’re correct in your total analysis. But I’ve concluded that it’s try, try try, and never seeing any good triumph: POLITICALLY, all the progressives are getting squeezed out of the system; ECONOMICALLY credit-card interest rates have never been higher; CULTURALLY our celebrity role models are decaying rapidly; not to mention our country’s reputation ( which always stood for the best principles of separation of “Church & State” throughout the globe ) is deteriorating daily; and PERSONALLY, friends, acquaintances, and family become harder & harder to reach and communicate with – (and this impersonalized internet doesn’t help; it has stolen our true affections).

    . . . . did I mention the GEOPHYSICAL – climate change issues that have somehow ALSO touched us all? Isn’t there something in the Bible that says….”At that time many will fall away…” Matt 24:10 ….. “End Times” ?

    Are we there yet?

  • I exp the feeling bad for feeling bad a lot. I also am a bit paranoid bc I believed ppl in church who tell one to always worship in a corporate body, it’s not safe
    to be a lone christian etc. I think I got clobbered pretty good! Toxic is toxic & ppl in recovery prob should not hang w one’s old addicted buddies. Seems like nowadays churches are cultish & are filled 98% w religion addicts. I feel better off w a few friends and the guidance of the holy spirit for this time in my walk w the lord!

  • I think labeling is evidence of black & white thinking, is a halmark of personality disorders & a sign that ppl’s core identities are based on propaganda inspired loyalties to institutions, addiction to brands, celebrity cults etc.

  • Jeff Preuss

    To be fair, I like actual barking dogs.

  • I’ll co-sign this comment.

  • gimpi1

    Me, too. Furry, friendly dogs – great. People barking out orders or demands, nowhere near as cute.

  • Jeff Preuss

    I love this so much, yet it’s hard to find the common ground with those who constantly tell me there is simply no way that I can be a Christian. When they explicitly speak to bar me from the door of Big-C church, it can be daunting to attempt to see any light in them.

  • Artistree

    James,

    Matthew 6:25-27 is at the center of my life, how I try to live. I’m a Third Order Franciscan ( Anglo-Catholic), so I do have personal property, but recognize that the Father owns everything, therefore I share all I have with whomever. I have a Ministry Project based on three main themes; the Apologetics of Beauty, the Apologetics of Truth, and the Apologetics of Goodness, intended to express the sacramental nature of all of life.
    Instead of promoting the right wing capitalist competative individualism, or the left wing socialist Statism, I hope to promote Familism. I run the community garden and give away hundreds of plants and vegetables every season, an expression of the Economy of Gift ( a principle of Franciscan Spirituality). I have an art gallery/studio in the center of town and don’t accept credit cards ( if customers don’t have cash or check, they can take what they would like to purchase and send a check latter…never been burned once in 30 years of business). A number of homeless men have lived under my roof from time to time. I don’t claim to be counter cultural; I don’t think much about that. I just celebrate the beauty of life and worship God with all 5 of my senses. Life is a wonderful journey (no burnout here, but pray for those who struggle with it).

    Blessings,
    Rodd

  • James Matthew

    Very interesting. I salute you for addressing the demand of poverty – this in high contrast to other Christians like Rev. Creflo Dollar who wants his Jesus to move his followers to donate 65 million dollars to him so he can buy one of the world’s most expensive private jets.

    How Creflo’s Jesus matches up with the homeless Jesus of Matthew 8:20 “the Son of Man has no place to lay his head” I can’t quite
    figure out. Actually according to Luke 13:31 he is homeless and is being hunted by those policing the order of the society. So no jets, no mansions, no fleet of limousines – not even a fancy chariot.

    I am assuming when you say “Anglo-Catholic” you mean as a member of the Protestant Anglican Church, perhaps someone who may be described as “High Anglican”. If so perhaps you can explain something about being Anglican and being a “Third Order Franciscan”.

    I have heard of Protestant Franciscans, the ones I have read about where Lutheran.

    I don’t understand how this works when Francis submitted himself and the rule of his order to the judgement of papal approval? He knelt in submission to the judgement of Pope Innocent III seeing him as “the vicar of Christ” who must be obeyed in all things spiritual.

    In contrast Protestants and Anglicans hold that the papacy can not be viewed in this way and such claims are at best delusions, or at worst are proof that Catholicism has been corrupted by the devil.

    So how does one follow Francis who orders his followers to submit to the Pope and yet follow Anglicanism which declares that one does not have to submit to someone who is so deluded he thinks he is the “vicar of Christ”.

    How is this addressed?

    Most of the time I hear Protestants saying that Rome went bad at Constantine’s time around 313 and therefore needed their Reformation, are Protestant Franciscans saying that it went bad after Francis died in 1226?

    (On the other hand perhaps by “Anglo-Catholic” you mean you are a member of Rome’s Anglican Ordinariate – one of the converts to Catholicism from Anglicanism that were allowed by Benedict XVI to use the Book of Common Prayer and some other Anglican “cultural aspects” in their worship after they joined Rome. If so then submission to the papacy in that case would be a given.)

  • My daughter’s just said to me ‘Fandom is awesome, and so is Jesus!’ Wish I had a blog I could point you to. Without wanting to ‘blow my own trumpet’ I could suggest you look at some of my posts here on Patheos where I describe some of my faith and freedom. Freedom has been the hallmark of all major Church reformations in the past, and I believe one is happening now. The hunger we are feeling – the hunger for more of Him – is not confined just to us, but to many across the world. Be encouraged. Begin with trawling my comments for freedom…..take a look and see what jives with you…I can always let you have an email address at a later time so we can hook up on Facebook or similar, if you think it will help. No pressure though, oh and I am a geek too :) Trek, Tolkien, Star Wars, boardgames… and God loves me :)

    Oh, will be on vacation for a week, in intermittent signal, so don’t worry if I don’t reply right away ;)

  • Georgia Carter

    You do realize that Jewish was a Jewish liberal don’t you? His idea upset the Conservative Jewish leaders. He hung out with all types of sinners upsetting the church at that time. He healed without forcing the sick to repent or believe first. Jesus was as liberal as they come. He sat talking with a Samaritan woman who had several husbands and was openly living in sin, yet he didn’t come down on her, he simply asked her to believe, That’s like a Christian minister speaking with a lesbian woman and simply asking her to believe today. It was frowned upon by the traditional church in Jesus time, the same as it would be today. There are 1,300 verses in the Bible commanding us to take care of the poor and needy. If Jesus were on earth today he would be for Obamacare, Welfare, Food Stamps and accepting foreigners into the church and the country. And he would have trouble with anyone who tried to stop these things, Conservatives in His day were Pharisees, just like they are today.

  • ChastMastr

    I think he’s been as affirming of us (er… I assume “us” means gay people, yes?) as he reasonably can in the context of his theology. How this might develop over time, I don’t know, but the RCC tends to move with glacial speed on things in general. Overall I think he’s the best pope we’ve had in my lifetime.

  • DK13

    Jeff, thanks for the reply. One thing I’ve found when I’ve tried to view those I disagree with more graciously is that they’re not as motivated by what I had imagined motivates them. Sure, when it comes time for tribal conflict with the out-group, they are geared up and loaded with venom….just like ‘my group’. So each group looks to the other like it is all about hate, conflict, and destruction of the good. Both groups are right, in a sense, but also very wrong. I honestly think you get a truer picture of any person and their base motivations if you get inside what they love, rather than what they hate.
    more to your point, it was Edwin Markham who said: “He drew a circle that shut me out – rebel, heretic, a thing to flout. But love and I had the wit to win: we drew a circle and took him in!”

  • Artistree

    Hi James,
    The Third Order I belong to is a ministry of the Anglican Rite Catholic Church, a small continuing Anglican Catholic body. We don’t call ourselves Protestants because we hold to the Catholic Faith of the undivided Church and its 7 ecumenical councils before the Great Schism. Yet we are not in communion with Rome as we do not hold to Papal infallibility, the Roman concept of Purgatory ( although we do believe in the intermediate state of the dead), our male priesthood can be married, ect. Also, if we were to become part of the Anglican Ordinariate, our priests would have to be re-ordained, and since we do have Apostolic Succession, being re-ordained would kinda like being re-baptised.
    The parish I attend is St. Mary of the Snows Anglican Church, which is part of the Anglican Church of North America. We recently elected a new Archbishop and interestingly enough, Pope Francis sent his blessings to to our new Archbishop at his consecration service. No such blessing came from the Arch Bishop of Canterbury. Although Rome has not yet fully embraced Traditional Anglo-Catholics, I personally consider Pope Francis to be my Holy Father and Pope Benedict before him. For all those suffering from “burn out”, reading Pope Francis’ “The Joy of the Gospel” would be good medicine.

  • Elizabeth 44

    There is a Franciscan order that belongs to the Episcopal church of the US. They follow the spirituality of St. Francis, but obviously don’t swear allegiance to the Pope. The Third Order Franciscans are lay people living in the world and trying to be faithful to the vision of St. Francis.

  • Elizabeth 44

    I read the first three lines and knew, there, but for the mercy of God goes I. I was turned down for Holy Orders, for the wrong reasons, but definitely the wisdom of God. It took me a long while to figure that out. I thought that if I could just “serve” better, I would find peace. I’m starting to think that many of us need to become invisible to the noise and confusion of today’s American Christianity. Trying to change the chaos is an exercise in futility. I’m still trying to work out the direction of the change for myself, but the institutional church is passing away, and those who will eventually lead the way are those quietly going about our business/ ministry without a label. We need to find each other in small groups to help encourage each other, and keep the discussion going. The hard part is finding our way spiritually. There is a loving God. As you can see, I am searching; I don’t know the answers, but I’ll keep seeking the peace and joy I know is there.

  • Elizabeth 44

    “spreading the message”– therein lies the problem. How about living the message in such a way that people are drawn to the love you show forth in your total being. Much more challenging.

  • Lisa Martinez

    Ben… Funny that I was feeling completely zapped by the Christian community here and looked up Christian burnout and here you are again. Found out more things about the Family / the fellowship / the gathering. I can’t do this anymore. Even beloved organizations are bankrolled by them. They have directed much of this current / passing away Christian Right political framework. And even current social justice organizations are funded by them, so the ends always justify the means? Well. I feel that my family and I are one of the used up and tossed to the side means… Is that in Gods plan? Well yes, that is why I feel burned out because not only us but I’ve seen many people used up by Christian organizations as a small means to an end planned by a wealthy and select few whom God has “blessed”. F&”& it all because that’s f$&@ed up. That’s my burn out talking.

  • Matthew

    If I may gimpi1, I think I have read enough of your comments since last year to conclude three things:

    1. You seem very interested in Jesus Christ.
    2. The Bible frustrates you (especially the Old Testament).
    3. The actions of some Christians drive you away and even aggravate you.

    If I am indeed misrepresenting you, please correct me. That said, if I am indeed correct then I would simply say focus on number #1 while allowing #2 and #3 to fall to the wayside (for now at least).

    From personal experience, both past and present, I have had to wrestle with #2. In terms of #3 … well … I have had to simply let go. If I didn´t, I´m not certain where I would be. I truly hope I don´t sound like a barking dog, but rather a singing dove. It´s so hard to know how one comes across electronically that is.

    Journey on :-) …….

  • Thank you so much Katherine. I walked through some terrible times for a couple decades. I’m here if you need me. My novel The River Caught Sunlight is a longer, fictional version of the stuff I write about in that piece and might also be useful.

  • ChuckQueen101

    Some excellent observations. I would offer one clarification to #4 – it’s the “destructive tribalism” that is the problem, not the diversity, as Ben points out. We have to learn how to differ in loving acceptance of one another and in ways where people can express their differences in, as Ben says, in an “emotionally safe” place.

  • I actually very very strongly disagree with this, because I think that words and categories are necessary for communication, and that “labels” are just words.

    TRiG.

  • G. W. Markle

    The Christian Dilemma:

    The greatest threat to America, and indeed to the rest of world, at this point in history, comes from the staunch advocates of right wing ideology, and I must submit this warning to you: There is a grave problem with the right wing movement, in that; they seem to possess a distorted sense of entitlement. They’ve set themselves apart, and seem to think that their faith gives them the right to view the world from a platitude of conceit, through condescending eyes, and with a false sense of superiority. They actually believe themselves to be superior beings, with a manifest destiny and some strange notion that God is on their side. A people with a desire to conquer, under the false guise of Christianity, seeking to dominate in the name of Christ, their view of humanity being reduced to nothing more than a matter of “us” and “them”.

    What they fail to realize is; if the Christ you believe in leads you to view other humans as lesser beings, then you are a follower of the anti-Christ. The plain truth is; God doesn’t have a religion and God doesn’t discriminate. Any religion that professes to be the only true religion,or that they‘re special in the eyes of God preaches false doctrine. If the Spirit of God is truly with you, it will only be known by acts of “unconditional” love and charity. No religion can claim exclusive rights to God. He belongs to all that He has created, and to foster a belief in “us” and“them” is to divide humanity, not unite it.

    And so it will be, in The End, that those who have set themselves apart from their fellow man will find that they have set themselves apart from God. The worth of a soul will only be measured by how much it has loved, nothing more, nothing less. Woe to those who have taken the widow’s mite and built castles and empires in His name. They have incurred a great accountability, their suffering will be unending.

    Even Jesus will not claim to be Christian, but will only proclaim the glory of the Father. And when He returns they will shout: “Here we are Lord!” And He will respond: “I never knew you”. They have forsaken the Word and have become prisoners of the Numbers.

    Those who have put themselves first will be last.

  • G. W. Markle

    The Separation Of Church And Hate:

    There is a good reason why Church and State must always remain separate. Let’s get something straight, right from the start: A theocratic state is not a free state, and never will be. I’m sure it was never Jesus’ intention nor His will, that anyone should be dominated in His name, the name of Christ. That is the will of men. To be accurate, the concept in itself is anti-Christian. You can only follow Christ by choice, not by legislation.

    It seems some people are more intent on casting stones at perceived sinners than propagating the love of Christ. ~ “Above all else, I command you love one another”. ~ This was the message that Jesus preached, and as far as I can see, the worth of a soul will only be measured as such. But I can assure you of one thing, when your time of judgment comes, you won’t be asked to recite scripture, but rather, if anything, the question will be; did you get the message and live by it?

    For all of you people out there on the religious right, you should try to remember that looking for sins to condemn, and people to persecute in the name of God, is just Satan’s way of keeping you from seeing what is good and praiseworthy. It’s Satan’s favorite means of deceit; getting people to hate and kill each other in the name of Jesus and God. Twisting scripture to incite hatred and division.

    Understand this; that by doing so, you are defaming the name of Christ, associating Jesus with bigotry and hate. Jesus was never cursed with these feelings, these sins that you commit in His name. It’s widely agreed that He rose above it all, and to use His name for the justification of spreading contempt and hatred for anyone is true heresy. It isn’t Pro-Christ by any means, but clearly Anti-Christ.

  • G. W. Markle

    ~ JESUS THE COMMODITY ~
    ~ As Seen On TV ~ Televangelists, selling Jesus by the gram. Mega-churches ministered by evil men seeking wealth and power, deceiving those seeking spiritual guidance. Stealing their wages, stealing their souls and telling them how they want them to vote. All in the name of Jesus. ~ Anti-Christians ~ The scriptures flow as sweet as honey from their lips, seducing and robbing in the name of God. These are the ones Jesus spoke of that would come in the End Times and deceive many in His name. Anti-Christians: You will know them by their bigotry, their hatred, and their contempt for “others”.

  • LifeIsWhatYouDo

    Boy, ain’t that the truth! The “Christians” only hear LIBERAL and are repulsed. The “liberals” hear only the word CHRISTIAN and are repulsed. So here we are, stuck in the middle with not too many others to talk to. It does get lonely at times. The time will come, though. If we are indeed living at the Dawning of the Age of Aquarius (aging hippie, here), it’s looking like it’s going to be a difficult birth…

  • Jeff Preuss

    Upvoted because Vartox.

  • Andrew Dowling

    All of this has led me more to the belief, echoed in the jail writings of Bonhoeffer, that the future of Christianity lies in the sharing of ideals and aspirations absent a formerly “religious” framework. Which I think is ultimately a shame, but it is what it is.

  • Andrew Dowling

    I don’t think the wide majority of liberals are ‘repulsed’ if someone says they’re a Christian. Liberal churches still make up a very substantial portion of the Left in America. I think it’s more that a lot of more secular people don’t understand that liberal Christians exist . . all they know are the Focus on the Family/Falwell types.

  • Andrew Dowling

    Actually the Pharisees were the relative liberals; the Sadducees were the conservatives.

  • Wayne Abraham

    There is so much to say here that I hardly know where to begin. I have been very involved in politics and I’m exhausted. I wanted to make the world better, but that never seemed to happen. I have talked with my Episcopal priest about being in despair that evil seems to win and good lose. I have had to stop. I am truly burnt out. I am taking time for daily reflection and meditation. I am taking time out for quiet. I have found the book Yes and… by Richard Rohr to be quite good. But I realize more than this is necessary. We are in post-Christendom. Christendom is over. And it should be. It was wrong. People laugh at the notion of believing in God or in Christianity because the people who get the attention are the Fundamentalists. They aren’t Christians, they worship the Bible not God. And they have managed to get all of Christianity painted with their foolishness about biblical literalism that any thinking person who bothers to do just the tiniest amount of investigation knows is nonsense. So I am tired of battling others over Christianity. I am tired of battling in the political arena to try and make the world a better place. I am weary. I have laid down my sword and shield. I can’t hold them up anymore. But what next? I know that God wants us to be engaged in making the world better. I know that God loves us all far more than we love ourselves. I want to be faithful, but what do I do? For now I have limited my activity to things that bring me some measure of joy and seem to be positive. I have for the most part stopped watching the news simply because I can’t take it anymore. Endless war, murder, injustice, starvation, slavery, pollution, ignorance, hatred, greed on scale I can’t even comprehend. I often say that I am tired of living in a world gone mad. But the world has always been this way. I do think Christians matter, but maybe only because we’re supposed to be “the leaven in the bread” as Jesus once said. We’re supposed to say out loud that greed and murder and war and hate are the opposite of what God wants. And then we model that behavior ourselves. Not hating our neighbors or those different from ourselves. Not being selfish. When I say the Lord’s Prayer now, and I get to the part about “forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us”, I realize how difficult that is. When I say the words in that prayer, “save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil”, I am not even sure where to direct that thought anymore. I think part of my exhaustion is that my batteries are low, but part of it is I am losing hope. My priest points out that there is good in the world. Good is happening all the time, and he’s correct it is. I just need to see more of it I guess. Look for good, respond to good, be encouraged by the good things that people do every day. I’m not trying to make some grand statement here. Just reflecting on what to do or not do. I find myself saying to God, don’t give me false hope God, I can’t take false hope. So yes we live in a world gone mad. Maybe now that Christendom is over, we can start again just being communities of people who love and support one another and see where that leads us.

  • That is a very good point! I think the sickness appears when words are used as weapons rather than tools.

  • i am just now reminded by your post of ezekiel 34. Are you familiar w it?

  • i sometimes think that the church could not be more evil if jesus had indeed bowed down to worship satan that time in the wilderness!

  • ccws

    Not sure why you think it’s a shame. Too often our religious frameworks get in the way of doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly – which in the end is what God requires. Or as Hillel said when challenged to teach the entire Torah while standing on one foot, “First of all, love God with all your heart and soul and mind. Second, love your neighbor as yourself. The rest is commentary.” (I seem to recll another famous first-century rabbi saying much the same thing…)

    Too often we get hung up in the commentary – the religious framework of denomination, doctrine, dogma, who’s in, who’s out – to the detriment of what Micah and Hillel and Jesus said was most important.

    I think Bonhoeffer – who had spent well over a decade risking his life trying to foster an authentic Christian community in the face of an oppressive, dogmatic state-co-opted church – was pointing hopefully toward a love and justice-centered faith able to rise above the twisting pull of dogmatic orthodoxy. I can’t imagine that being a bad thing.

  • Zane Danish Chandy

    This post seems to contradict itself, the condemners being condemned by condemners, the superiors being judged by the more superior…hmmm. Only god can judge.

    “There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you–who are you to judge your neighbor?” James 4:12

  • Zane Danish Chandy

    I feel that is exactly the main problem in our society. Nobody is motivated by the exact same things that we true christians feel motivated by. Everyone is selfish and stubborn with their beliefs and no one cares to think about others and finding whats right. I feel like if we all felt we needed was to love each other, put families first, heal our disorders instead of praising them, and mentored each other we would be in a healthier state to make decisions on whats best for the country. But freedom belongs to everyone, and it can fall into the wrong hands, including the sick. And if the ill use it to their advantage, it can be dangerous in so many ways that can damage our younger generations view of the truth and destroy lives.

  • gimpi1

    You’ve got me pretty well surrounded, with one minor issue. I am very interested in the person of Jesus and in what appear to be the central teachings promulgated by Jesus. I can’t accept the Old Testament, as fact or as a guide to morality. It’s abysmal on both of these points. Some Christians do wonderful things. However, some Christians do awful things, and it appears, in the U.S, awful is more common than I would like. Many of them can’t seem to accept the obvious fact that our morality has vastly improved over the ancient or even recent past. The idea that a time when at least 1/3 of humanity was in abject slavery was a more moral time than when gay marriages are recognized by the state just leaves me gasping. However, every group has – to put it bluntly – reactionary and foolish people. That doesn’t condemn the belief-system, it just means it is being interpreted by human beings.

    However, there is that minor issue. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a hard-sell on anything supernatural. Having seen a family-member survive for 40-some years after being traumatically injured and declared dead, I know people can survive horrific injury, and can be so near to death that even in the mid-20th century no one could tell that they were still alive. Having seen that, what I’ve read of the Christian story that can be (sort of) verified by historical accounts could have a natural explanation. It’s possible that the living man Jesus survived a botched execution and that extraordinary event elevated the teachings of a philosopher-rabbi to a religious movement. I’m not saying that’s what happened. I’m saying that could have happened.

    I know it’s unrealistic to expect good verification of events in ancient times, but I guess that’s what I want. Perhaps I’m too much a product of the 20th and 21st century, where good, quantifiable, verifiable information is easily available. I’ve never been any good at taking things on faith. However, many people have spoken of being reached on a level beyond their rational minds. I admit to being a bit suspicious about that sort of experience, but I’m also fascinated by it, and perhaps a bit envious. If it’s a real phenomenon, it could happen to me. I’m open to the possibility.

    I will say this. Ben, Susan, Kimberly and others here on the progressive Patheos blog have shown me a side of Christianity that I was much less aware of than the Santorium-Robertson-Dobson variety. It’s one that I can realate to and admire. That’s progress.

  • Andrew Dowling

    I agree in large part, but I think ritual and tradition done right can reenforce justice and walking humbly in powerful ways.

  • Andy

    I see this in glurge forwarded by some conservatives I know. There will be a passage about abortion or gays or Obama and they will highlight or capitalize trigger words both positive (e.g. “GOD”, “JESUS”, “CHRISTIAN”) and negative (e.g. “LIBERAL”, “ATHEIST”, “MUSLIM”) to make their point. If you don’t worship their “Christian” conception of God, you’re a bad person. If you’re liberal or atheist or Muslim, you’re a bad person. Labels can be good shorthand, but they can also be used to put people into boxes unfairly. As @jeffpreuss:disqus said, some people tell him he can’t be a Christian because he’s gay. Some people, if they hear I’m a Christian, assume I oppose abortion and orientation equality and universal salvation and separation of church and state and the propagation of any non-Christian ideas. But none of those are true. Some people find it incredulous that I would support any of those things. I say, I find it incredulous that they wouldn’t if they claim to want to emulate Jesus.

  • Georgia Carter

    While that maybe true, compared to Jesus they were very conservative.

  • Nimblewill

    Now abide faith hope and love and the greatest of these is love.
    When we can’t be faithful or hopeful be loveful.

  • ccws

    No argument there – for a Baptist Preacher’s Kid™ I have some surprisingly high-church worship sensibilities (thanks to a Catholic ex and several years’ involvement in a hymnal project for the Episcopal church). Put me in the choir for a Xmas Eve Midnight Mass or Easter Vigil, and I’m in heaven!

    I look at it this way: If sprituality is food, then ritual and tradition are the seasoning, not the meat (or beans or tofu if you’re vegetarian). Season & sauce your steak to taste, but don’t let the whole point of things be whether Mornay sauce is better or worse than brown gravy, smothered onions, Jamaican jerk seasoning, or even A-1 or just a little salt & pepper, or that bloodybloodybloody rare is good while well-done is EVIL (it is, but it’s not my job to force-feed anyone steak tartare, hee hee). And no hassling back and forth with the vegans or trying to make anyone eat stuff they’re allergic to! (As for those who just gorge on junk food…well…it’s THEIR life…not going there…)

    A silly analogy, I know, but having said it, I suppose I get your point! Bring on the seasonings, but let’s all hope no one forgets that they’re not the thing that makes the meal nourishing – just more memorable, and that is, as Martha Stewart says, a Very Good Thing… :-)

  • HUMANITY!

  • i think I begin to see how paradox works. Maybe jesus words and deeds were powerful bc he was powerless, only god is good, he, jesus only did what he saw his father do= he was CONNECTED to his father. I extrapolate that whatever one is connected to, listens to, is obedient to will ultimately become one’s core identity. BTW paradoxes seem also ironic to me

  • Hilary

    “What is hateful to yourself, do not do to others. That is the Torah, the Law and the Prophets. Everything else is commentary, go and study.” -Hillel, Bablyonian Talmud, Shabbat 31a

  • Matthew

    Thanks gimpi1.

    I guess I can only really say a few things in response.

    My sister-in-law is a fan of Jesus and his teachings also. She said so herself as a committed atheist. I think there are probably loads of people in the world who can accept Jesus as a good moral teacher-philosopher-rabbi, but not as the resurrected Son of God. Therein lies the difference — the really important difference I think.

    In terms of the Old Testament I think we have corresponded on this blog about it before. Like I believe I said earlier, I too struggle with the rather ugly parts, but there are also good parts as well — like the social justice commands the nation of Israel were given. If only most conservative American evangelicals as well as many Israeli politicians would take those words literally we might see something completely different in the Middle East (but that´s another discussion for another day :-))! I certainly won´t say it´s an easy task, but attempting to understand the new covenant and its altogether world changing implications in light of the Old Testament law is critical. I´ll admit … I´m still trying to do this myself.

    Also, about verification. There are lots of good resources available that argue for the historical reliability of the Gospel accounts. The Gospel narratives, if reliable, tell a completely different story than one of a philosopher-rabbi who withstood a botched execution. I suppose the eyewitness reports within the Gospels themselves provide the strongest evidence. That said, if one rejects the historicity of the Gospels, then it´s tough to piece together a supernatural story with “other world” evidence — this I will admit.

    What amazes me though is just how many historical accounts we as students of history are willing to accept as accurate. For example, I didn´t live through the American Civil War, but I have read about it. Why are the written reports of the American Civil War that much more reliable than the written accounts of Jesus Christ in the New Testament?

    In conclusion, I am glad that you found a Christian space that is relatively safe where you can unpack the stuff that troubles you the most. My very best to you as you continue the journey.

    Journey on …….

  • Nikkeya Murguia

    I agree with everything your saying especially the political part. I live in Idaho and i cannot seem to find a more progressive church I begin to feel burnt out everytime i have to hear politics in church. Its like no matter what church im at someone has to bring up the law of the bible which i respect as i respect the law of our country but sometimes i want to leave screaming… who the hell wants to follow christ if they think its all about law? the law failed so comes in grace. Its just like your personal opinions begun to drive you indane wrestling a d feeling like by questioning your views vs the churchs you begin to feel like some how God is upset with you. Its a horrible season I finally see myself slowly emerging out but its come with consequences.

  • PremiumOsmium

    It raises my eyebrow anytime a Christian calls Christianity “counter-cultural” in the United States. Especially considering how Mr. Corey also admits how political candidates try to do everything they can to show off how Christian they are.

    This country’s culture is inundated with Christianity. Christian TV, movies and radio. Whole sections at your local bookstore dedicated to Christian books and magazines. Political candidates voicing their positions in terms of their stance on scripture. The President of the United States speaking at a prayer breakfast and talking about his belief in the resurrection. You can’t swing a stick without hitting a church. You have mainstream news sources constantly reporting on the public statements and deeds of Christian leaders.
    I’m sorry, but this whole “Christianity as counter-cultural” thing just doesn’t hold water for me. Now you may view your particular brand of Christianity as different from the mainstream, which may or may not be true. But to say that Christianity is counter to American culture just sounds absurd to me.

  • RonnyTX

    Wayne,I stopped watching the news on TV,years ago. Why? Because it finally hit me how depressed I got,when I watched such too much.

    Now on the politics part,I simply stopped voting several years ago. Why? Because I disagreed with both the Republican and Democratic party on somethings important to me,so that I couldn’t see voting for canidates from either side.

    I wish I could think of then name of that old news type paper,that used to have only good things in it,that various people were doing for others. The last time I saw it,it was in a magazine form and at my local Tractor Supply outlet. Oh yeah,if I’m remembering right,it’s name was Grit? Need to look that up both online and off. For as I remember,it had some stuff that was well worth reading and was uplifting.

  • RonnyTX

    Ray:
    “This country’s culture is inundated with Christianity. Christian TV, movies and radio. Whole sections at your local bookstore dedicated to Christian books and magazines.”

    Ronny to Ray:
    Ray,the sad fact is,that most of what we seeing going by the name Christianity,is merely man made up religion,that has nothing to do with Jesus Christ.

  • PremiumOsmium

    As far as I’ve seen, all religion is made up. So from where I’m sitting, I don’t see how any religious group can have any grounding to claim that their version is more authentic than any other.

  • RonnyTX

    GW:
    And so it will be, in The End, that those who have set themselves apart from their fellow man will find that they have set themselves apart from God. The worth of a soul will only be measured by how much it has loved, nothing more, nothing less. Woe to those who have taken the widow’s mite and built castles and empires in His name. They have incurred a great accountability, their suffering will be unending.

    Ronny to GW:
    GW,I have to disagree with you on this part. For I would say the worth of a soul,any person is priceless. How so? Because of what Jesus Christ did for each and everyone of us,on the cross. That shows us,how much we are worth to God/Jesus Christ.

    I have to disagree with you too,about the unending suffering for some people. None will have that;but God will bring every person to repentance and on to faith in Jesus Christ. For that is how much God/Jesus Christ, loves each and everyone of us. :-)

  • RonnyTX

    True,love wins and we are to love all-even our enemies. :-) We are to overcome evil with good.

    Another good one is,God destroys His enemies by loving them and making them His friends. :-)

  • Bill

    True Christianity is EXTREMELY counter cultural. Even in this so called Christian culture of Republo-Churchianity in the USA. Jesus said a lot of stuff that was downright strange and awesome

  • Bill

    I have not ever found a truly progressive Evangelical church. the closest I found was in Seattle. Now I have gone mainline (Methodist) as I cannot stand being part of the religious right anymore. I might just wear my Im Ready For Bernie T shirt to random churches and see how long it takes them to show me the door (or try to save my soul from hell). I am a Christian btw.

  • WiseMom

    Excllent post, Benjamin. Thank you for expressing my feelings precisely. I am on medical leave from seminary, have left my church, and beyond editing for a Patheos blogger, my relationship with the institutional church is pretty limited. For my health, I have been required to step back and rest from all the institutional hoo ha, and have found some of the most loving people online are in SNR (Spiritual not Religious) group forums. Hope you feel better soon. :)

  • gimpi1

    Well, the Civil War took place in the age of newspapers and the start of mass communication. The documentation is pretty darn good.

    I can accept the Civil War, the Spanish-American war, World Wars I and II, because of the massive documentation. They are reliable because they have real physical evidence along hundreds of thousands or millions of witnesses. However, there are rumors of Lincoln surviving the assassination, Davy Crockett surviving the Alamo and Hitler being smuggled out of Germany rather than committing suicide in a bunker. None of these can be remotely proved. The wars are documented, but many pivotal incidents may not be. Remember, the Vietnam War started (for the U.S.) over the Gulf of Tonkin, an apparently falsified story of an attack. That false incident doesn’t mean that the Vietnam War never happened. It just means it didn’t happen the way most people in the U.S. at the time thought it did.

    The thing is, I default to a naturalistic explanation when there is one. I think one only resorts to supernatural explanations when a naturalistic one won’t fit the bill. That makes me question many eye witness accounts. Anyone who’s ever taken depositions knows that eye witnesses often contradict each other. I’ll take a piece of physical evidence over 10 eye witnesses, and so will most police departments.

    Am I over-analyzing? Almost certainly. I do that. It makes the journey long, but I usually get there in the end. And I’ve corresponded with some nice people along the way. That makes the journey much more pleasant. I’m also glad to have found a space where I can ask questions – and even question the answers – without people being too put off. It makes the long walk easier.

    Good talk, and good trip.

  • RonnyTX

    Ray,the way I look at religion,it is all made up. Each one, made up by some people and then passed on down to others. But being a Christian,a believer in and follower of Jesus Christ,is not made up. It is what one becomes,when they’re born of God. You see,it’s all of God,by way of Jesus Christ and the cross. For there,he reconciled us all back to God the Father. Now many don’t know that yet,in the here and now. And many have died,never even hearing of such;but all will. All will hear of such and that directly from God. And each person will hear and come to understand that,as they’re born again/born of God. For God so loved the world,is a truth. Another truth,is that Jesus Christ came to condemn no one;but instead,to seek and to save that which was lost. And well,that’s all of us. And God does save us,by bringing us to repentance towards God and on to faith in Jesus Christ. And it’s at that time,that each person learns just how greatly they are loved of God/Jesus Christ. It is at that time,that each person learns,that God is love. :-) And there is no Jesus Christ created hell,of eternal torment. And the teaching that there is,that was added on to the Bible,by some people. Such a teaching came from pagan religion and not from God. Such a teaching was passed on down by some, into Roman Catholicism and from there,to Protestantism.

    And the good news,is that Jesus Christ came to save his people from/out of their sins and he has. He came to reconcile us all back to God the Father and that he has done. Now,it’s just a matter of time,till God shows this to each person. :-) And God will,as each one is born of God. :-)

  • PremiumOsmium

    Yeah, none of that makes any sense. What sort of a God needs a human sacrifice to reconcile people back? Why do we need to be reconciled in the first place? What do we need to be saved from? Sounds to me like a bunch of meaningless platitudes.

  • RonnyTX

    For one thing Ray,we all need to be saved from religion. (ha) :-) That’s just one part of our sinfullness,that is so often passed on in local churchs,from one generation to the next. And we all died in Adam and just as surely as scripture tells us that,it immediately follows that up with,we shall all be made alive in Jesus Christ. And I don’t expect any of this to make sense to you now;but it will make sense to you,when you are told/taught such by God. Then you will know the truth of the matter and you won’t have got such from a person;but straight from God. So,you are in great hands,as are we all. :-)

  • RonnyTX

    Jeff,the best news is that no one can bar your from the church/body/temple of Jesus Christ. For God puts us in that and not a person or persons. But what some people can and do bar us from,is the little-c church. The various churches,set up and made by some men. And even if I could hear well enough for such a church to do me any good,can’t you just see it in rural/small town NE Texas,if I went to most any church here and let them know I was not only gay;but also Christian universalist in belief! (ha) My,that might give some people a stroke! :-)

  • RonnyTX

    Zane,in the church I grew up in,I was taught to believe their that I didn’t have to search for or find out what was right. I didn’t have to ask God to show me that. No,I was taught I simply had to listen to the preacher and the teacher(s) at my local church and in doing that,I was taught such was the same as me getting truth straight from the Bible,straight from God. I believed that,because I was brought up in a local church and taught to believe that way. And I didn’t know that was taught idol worship of some people and sin. Didn’t know that,until God showed me better and I am so glad,that God did that for me! :-)

  • Matthew

    Thanks gimpi1. Yes … good talk and good trip :-)

    I think it´s very much O.K. to over-analyze (I too asked many intellectual questions in the beginning of my search), but like I said earlier there is that element of faith to consider (I do know you have difficulties with faith as you have already mentioned).

    In terms of physical evidence, IMHO the empty tomb speaks for itself. I won´t get into the conspiracy theories that abound about what might have happened to the body. Such theories will always persist (like the one about the lunar landing being staged on a Hollywood set or something like that — SHOCK!), but the fact remains that the tomb was empty and the eyewitness testimony recorded in the New Testament regarding meet ups with Jesus post resurrection is rather solid. I believe there are ten mentions alone in the New Testament regarding post resurrection appearances of Jesus Christ.

    All that said, if one still struggles with the historicity of the New Testament then one will continue to struggle with the resurrection I think. If I haven´t done a good job of presenting the information in favor of a physical resurrection of Jesus Christ, here are some men who will:

    — J.P. Moreland
    — William Lane Craig
    — Gary Habermas

    St. Paul said that if the resurrection of Jesus Christ is a hoax, then the whole Christian system of belief is a hoax (I´m paraphrasing here … don´t want to sound like a barking dog — WOOF WOOF :-)!). With that in mind, entertaining this question is very important if one is seriously considering becoming a believer in and follower of Jesus Christ.

    Journey on …….

  • gimpi1

    Oh, don’t worry, the journey continues. I have read some stuff by Moreland, but was disappointed in it. He has some issues with the process of the earth’s development that, even with my limited knowledge, I can see are problematic. That doesn’t mean he’s wrong about other things, but it makes me question his reasoning-process. He appears to have started from the idea that “A is true, so now I’ll prove it,” rather than “Let’s find out what’s true.” He was looking to support his beliefs. That’s death on objectivity.

    Habermas looks interesting, I checked out some of his books and will follow up. He appears to have some interesting points.

    Having had my father literally ‘come back from the dead’ I still see naturalistic possibilities. (Yes, there was an empty ‘slab in the morgue’ – they had my dad toe-tagged and ready to ship when a morgue attendant noticed him moving. My family still has his death-certificate dated 1959. He actually died in 1992.) So, without invoking any supernatural explanation, there could be an empty tomb, a ‘resurrected’ man and, in the ancient past, no way to understand what happened. In my father’s case, the doctors sorted it out in the 1950’s only after much head-scratching.

    Again, I’m not saying that’s what happened. I just see it as a possibility, one I have a hard time dismissing due to my personal experience.

    As to the idea that without a supernatural resurrection, Christianity being a hoax, well, the Vietnam war happened. The society-shaping and technology-developing consequences are a part of the world. The fact that one of the major catalysts for it was false doesn’t’ mean it didn’t happen, or that the medical technology that was developed on the battlefield isn’t still saving lives today. An event can be quite real, and still have much about it in question. In fact, that sums up most events, even today.

    I don’t see Christianity as a hoax. I see it as a belief-system with much to recommend it, some major issues in its founding documents (both factual and moral) and with some problems adapting to a changing world.

    That’s not a condemnation. It’s doing better than most, that’s part of what interests me. The progressive Christian or emergent movement shows an adaptability that I don’t see in the Moslem, Jewish or Hindu faiths. That tells me Christianity is still alive. (Only dead things don’t change.) For a belief-system to still be alive, able to take on new knowledge and use it to expand compassion, ease suffering and make the world more just – after a couple of thousand years, the collapse of its founding-empire, massive internal wars, endless disputes, changes in languages, the discovery of a whole ‘new world’ and the development of a technological society – that’s pretty darn impressive. Almost, dare I say it, supernatural. I think that catches me more than anything else.

  • G. W. Markle

    Zane: ~ This is not a judgment, but a call to reason. ~ You will know them by their deeds, their “fruits”, and by your response, it seems to be the label you have chosen to define yourself with, and the label of those you follow. The fruit of faith is humility, not arrogance.

    “Nothing is hidden that will not be disclosed nor anything
    that is secret that will not come to light”. Lk8: 17 –

    The deception can no longer be maintained. The damaging results of the hateful deeds done in the name of Jesus Christ by right wing fundamentalists and extremists are apparent for the entire world to see. Anti-Christians: You will know them by their bigotry, their hatred, and their contempt for “others”.

    “Those who have put themselves first will be last”.

  • G. W. Markle

    ~ Salvation is not gained by entertaining
    religious fantasies in the mind and believing oneself to be holy for doing so, with
    thoughts of personal divinity, but through works of ”unconditional” love and
    charity. To live the Word, living in Awareness, and in the NOW. You can take
    your Bible and burn it if it only serves as a source of division for you.

  • RonnyTX

    GW,from your post,I’m not sure when,where or how you’re agreeing or disagreeing with me? :-) But if I’m understanding parts of your post at all,then I have to disagree with you again. That by saying our salvation is not through our words at all;but instead,it is by grace through faith and those things not of ourself;but both,God’s gift to us. God’s gift to each and everyone of us. And as far as anyone of us being holy and righteous,we are that because we have recieved such from Jesus Christ. He is our righteousness. His righteousness is imputed to us. Will all have that? Yes,we will. Will any of us have done good works to obtain such? No,we want. For our salvation is 100% from God to us, start to finish. And as scripture well tells us,we are all the offspring/children of God and that we each learn,as we are born of God.

  • RonnyTX

    Yes,some will enter the kingdom of God last;but still,they will enter. Will any enter because of some good thing they have done? No;but they/we will all enter because of the love of God/Jesus Christ,for each and everyone of us. :-)

  • RonnyTX

    True,one of the fruits of the faith God gives/gifts to a person is humility. And the opposite of that is arrogance. And sad to say,way to many times we get taught to be arrogant by some people,in the church we grew up in. Been there,done and experienced that;but thanks be to God,that God takes such out of us! :-)

    22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
    23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

    Galatians 5:22,23

  • Raymond Watchman

    G.W.Markle. I’m so glad to have found your comments on this thread and agree with you overall. I came to the same conclusions recently. Even here in New Zealand we see this counterfeit Christianity infecting our churches. For what it’s worth, I have summed up my own understanding of the Gospel thus: ‘The Christian life is not about how others behave, but how we behave towards others.’

  • Matthew

    Thanks gimpi1.

    It is rather amazing that the church has been able to expand compassion, ease suffering, and make the world more just even after a rather dark past as well as the natural progress of society.

    Although you may quote the natural reasons for this phenomenon, I personally think it´s supernatural in nature. Jesus said the gates of hell would never prevail against the church and I tend to think the reason behind this has to be supernatural. I mean could the church really survive to the extent that it has given all it has been through and all the negative press it receives (almost daily) without the power of God behind it?

    Also … I think the reason Paul said it would all be a hoax if the resurrection wasn´t the “real deal” is because the good deeds of the church and so on are not the main points of Christianity. Paul could have easily said “Even if the resurrection is false, the church will go on! It will change society, do good deeds, etc. Stand firm!” However … he didn´t say this. I tend to think it´s because the person and work of Jesus Christ is the point, not the ancillary added extras so much. Remember … loads of people are fans of Jesus as a moral teacher, and others are fans of the social justice work done in his name, but to accept him as the Son of God?

    Have a good weekend and journey on …….

  • MelodieD

    I remember my father–a Mennonite deacon and fairly liberal in conservative Indiana, who was a conscientious objector during World War II–feeling lonely and like he didn’t have a lot of company in his church and community during the 60s and 70s. I think he felt burned out too towards the end of his life. Thanks for this post.

  • I’ll take these in order.

    5. The post-Christendom vacuum is (understandably) leading to endless debates and in-fighting as we wrestle for the future.

    … Many of us celebrate the end of this era because we feel that this unholy marriage marginalized Jesus and distorted the Gospel. …

    This is Christian privilege speaking. As a Jew from Eastern Europe, I celebrate this end of an era because the “Church” is no longer in a position of power from which it can launch random murder sprees against the various Jewish populations.

    4. Destructive tribalism seems to be increasing, and we’re even seeing the formation of sub-tribes or splinter-tribes within groups– and this grieves a lot of us.

    This has been going on since Day One and is to the entirely distortable nature of the Bible. If you squint at it right, you can make it say pretty much anything you want. Slavery? Sure. No slavery? Absolutely.

    3. Another presidential campaign season is kicking off, and many of us are simply tired of the marriage between Jesus and American politics.

    Then do something about it. You’ve allowed these crackpots to gain so much power. Field your own candidates, ones who understand and respect the Separation of Church and State, not just to free the Church from the State, but also to free the State from the Church.

    2. Following the counter-cultural teachings of Christ means that one is usually swimming against the current– everywhere.

    Well, you’ve pretty much covered this one. There is too much desire in Christianity to legislate, not just to be.

    1. We’re craving authentic, real-world relationships and community… even if we don’t know it.

    I’m not really sure what this means.

  • Jeff Preuss

    Thanks, Ronny! I do know this to be true! No matter who may attempt to exclude me, my faith is alive within me!

  • G. W. Markle

    ~ JESUS THE COMMODITY ~
    ~ As Seen On TV ~ Televangelists, selling Jesus by the gram. Mega-churches ministered by evil men seeking wealth and power, deceiving those seeking spiritual guidance. Stealing their wages,
    stealing their souls and telling them how they want them to vote. All in the name of Jesus. ~ Anti-Christians ~ The scriptures flow as sweet as honey from their lips, seducing and robbing in the name of God. These are the ones Jesus spoke of that would come in the End Times and deceive many in His name. Anti-Christians: You will know them by their bigotry, their hatred, and their contempt for “others”.

  • G. W. Markle

    I think it’s all just a matter of personal spiritual balance really, of “give” and “take”. The ironic thing about that is;
    in order to achieve and maintain spiritual balance, one must give more than one takes. If you take more than you give, that’s defined as ‘greed’, and if you give more than you take, that’s ‘charity’.

    The threshold of these opposites is the door of the heart’s desire, where the heart finds that spiritual opening. When
    you pass the threshold in either direction, a mindset is developed that draws you even further in that direction, the direction of you’re heart’s desire.

    If charity is where the heart finds its fulfillment, then love, mercy, empathy and compassion grow. These are the
    beatitudes that fill the spirit, and flow outward to the world, and they result in good works to the benefit of others. They are the hearts of those who learn forgive and repent transgressions, and to nourish the fruits of the Spirit in the
    hearts of others. They seek peace.

    If greed takes hold, one becomes selfish with a self-centered perspective on life. The heart becomes cold. It cannot experience the beatitudes, but become absorbed in the physical world. Always seeking more, seeking to use others for personal gain, to dominate. It is a heart ruled by numbers, unable to feel love, mercy, or compassion. There is no empathy, no guilt, no shame, or remorse for transgressions. Living in a world of perceived enemies, conflict, and fear. There is no peace.

    Love, and give from the Heart.

  • RonnyTX

    Ah,bigotry,hatred and contempt for “others”. (sigh) When there are no others;but only one. One human race,
    composed of the offspring/children of God. Some know that now,many do not;but before all is said and done,God/Jesus Christ will show/prove to us all,that such is so. And that is just how great,the love of God is,for us all! :-) Or as one old song so well puts it. When we all get to heaven,what a day of rejoicing that will be. When we all see Jesus,we’ll sing and shout the victory! :-)

  • RonnyTX

    GW:
    I think it’s all just a matter of personal spiritual balance really, of “give” and “take”. The ironic thing about that is;
    in order to achieve and maintain spiritual balance, one must give more than one takes. If you take more than you give, that’s defined as ‘greed’, and if you give more than you take, that’s ‘charity’.

    Ronny to GW:
    You’ve reminded me here,of just how much Jesus Christ gave for us all. :-) And he simply tells us,follow me.

    GW:
    The threshold of these opposites is the door of the heart’s desire, where the heart finds that spiritual opening. When
    you pass the threshold in either direction, a mindset is developed that draws you even further in that direction, the direction of you’re heart’s desire.

    Ronny to GW:
    Thinking about,when I was born of God and how great that was to find out how much God/Jesus Christ loved me. :-) And my desire then,was for every person to then have that same exact type of relationship with God. But in the local church I grew up in,I had been taught that God had only chosen to save a few. But just 5 years ago,God showed me that God had chosen/elected to save every person and that by way,of Jesus Christ and the cross. :-) was reminded of the scripture that tells us,God will give us our hears desire! :-)

    GW:
    If charity is where the heart finds its fulfillment, then love, mercy, empathy and compassion grow. These are the
    beatitudes that fill the spirit, and flow outward to the world, and they result in good works to the benefit of others. They are the hearts of those who learn forgive and repent transgressions, and to nourish the fruits of the Spirit in the
    hearts of others. They seek peace.

    Ronny to GW:
    And Jesus Christ,he gives us that peace. :-) It is because of him,that we have love,mercy,empathy and compassion and that for all of God’s creation! :-) Such love for us,truly makes us love everybody! :-)

    GW:
    If greed takes hold, one becomes selfish with a self-centered perspective on life. The heart becomes cold. It cannot experience the beatitudes, but become absorbed in the physical world. Always seeking more, seeking to use others for personal gain, to dominate. It is a heart ruled by numbers, unable to feel love, mercy, or compassion. There is no empathy, no guilt, no shame, or remorse for transgressions. Living in a world of perceived enemies, conflict, and fear. There is no peace.

    Ronny to GW:
    Thinking here,of Who gives us both love and peace. :-) Who takes away our selfcenteredness and selfrighteousness. God/Jesus Christ,who does that for us. :-) That is why we change. God meets with us and we find that God is love,that God/Jesus Christ loves us and from that we love God and everybody else,in return. That is what God does for us! :-) And I seldom use the word religion in a good way;but I do really like that old song that goes;Give me that old time religion,it’s good enough for me. Why? Because it makes me love everybody! :-) And where does such come from? Well,it comes to us straight from God/from Jesus Christ. :-)

    GW:
    Love, and give from the Heart.

    Ronny to GW:
    Amen! :-) And the heart we give from,is the new heart,that God has gtiven/gifted to us. :-) So,no brag in that;but just extreme gratefullness to God/Jesus Christ,for giving/gifting such to us. :-)

  • RonnyTX

    Amen Jeff,amen! :-)

  • Andy

    Insightful, but also designed to make us feel like we believers should feel guilty for being actively engaged in dialogue. No thank you.

    I’d like to point out that atheism grows and the morale of religious organizations takes a dip during economic recessions and periods of unpopular leadership.

  • G. W. Markle

    Ronny TX: You ramble on and on but preach the same old division and “superior being” mindset crap that has always plagued humanity…as you stand there on you’re platitude of conceit, spouting your arrogance, and hiding behind a false name with no face. Ronny, all you’re doing is illustrating the mindset of an anti-Christian, or as it’s understood clinically: A Psychopath.

  • G. W. Markle

    Ronny TX: ~ You may say that you are a Christian, yet by your own words you have claimed the label bigot. You can take and wear that label and espouse all the prejudice it represents, or you can cast it aside and follow Jesus Christ, but you can’t have it both ways. It’s your choice, you have a free will, no religion required.

    ~ “Above all else I command you love one another”.

    Why do you waste your time, your energy and your soul on hatred?

  • G. W. Markle

    The Christian Dilemma:

    The greatest threat to America, and indeed to the rest of world, at this point in history, comes from the staunch advocates of right wing ideology, and I must submit this warning to you: There is a grave problem with the right wing movement, in that; they seem to possess a distorted sense of entitlement. They’ve set themselves apart, and seem to think that their faith gives them the right to view the world from a platitude of conceit, through condescending eyes, and with a false sense of superiority. They actually believe themselves to be superior beings, with a manifest destiny and some strange notion that God is on their side. A people with a desire to conquer, under the false guise of Christianity, seeking to dominate in the name of Christ, their view of humanity being reduced to nothing more than a matter of “us” and “them”.

    What they fail to realize is; if the Christ you believe in leads you to view other humans as lesser beings, then you are a follower of the anti-Christ. The plain truth is; God doesn’t have a religion and God doesn’t discriminate. Any religion that professes to be the only true religion,or that they‘re special in the eyes of God preaches false doctrine. If the Spirit of God is truly with you, it will only be known by acts of “unconditional” love and charity. No religion can claim exclusive rights to God. He belongs to all that He has created, and to foster a belief in “us” and“them” is to divide humanity, not unite it.

    And so it will be, in The End, that those who have set themselves apart from their fellow man will find that they have set themselves apart from God. The worth of a soul will only be measured by how much it has loved, nothing more, nothing less. Woe to those who have taken the widow’s mite and built castles and empires in His name. They have incurred a great accountability, their suffering will be unending.

    Even Jesus will not claim to be Christian, but will only proclaim the glory of the Father. And when He returns they will shout: “Here we are Lord!” And He will respond: “I never knew you”. They have forsaken the Word and have become prisoners of the Numbers.

    Those who have put themselves first will be last.

  • RonnyTX

    Ummm GW,what bigotry and hatred,do you say I’m guilty of?

    And GW,I not only say I am a Christian;but I know I am. How? Because I was born of God,when I was 16 years old. For at that time,God let me know I was lost,not in a right relationship with God,God led me to repentance and then God took me on to faith in Jesus Christ. God showed me my sin,my sinful selfrighteousness and that in comparison to God’s holiness. And that was the goodness of God,that led me to repentance. And just as soon as I had repented/agreed with God,the love of God began to pour out upon me. :-) And God put a picture in my mind of 3 crosses. And I knew on that center cross was Jesus Christ and that he was there for me,there taking my sins upon himself. :-) That was how I was born of God and how I came to find out,how greatly God/Jesus Christ loves me. :-) And the good news is,God/Jesus Christ loves everyone of us in that way and at the time of God’s choosing,each person will learn that,as they are born of God. :-) For it is God who brings us from death unto life. It is God who saves us all,by way of Jesus Christ and the cross. So,no one has a right to brag,because they’re a Christian. No Christian has room,right or reason,to look down on anyone. For all we are and all we have is of God. And we receive such,not because of something we do;but because of God’s love,grace and mercy,for us all. :-) And that is how I now know,that before all is said and done, every last person,will be born of God and that by way of Jesus Christ and the cross. :-)

  • G. W. Markle

    How sad for the soul that cannot feel love, mercy, empathy or compassion, for likewise they cannot feel guilt, shame or remorse, can never repent their transgressions and therefore never know forgiveness.

  • RIbluebird

    What truly scare me are born again Christians, mega churches, wealthy pastors, so many hungry and poor in this country, standing with politics and the list can go on and on
    For me is God who has waked with since I was age 8 and yes grew up at age 3 learned Jesus loves me. So I go my way do what God wants me to do each day. If I as found people put me down He has given me thee word as to how to treat them. Those who will tell to read the bible, but do not live it. So God and I go our merry way with my Holy spirit and his kid Jesus and we have been together 80 years this summer,

  • RonnyTX

    GW to Ronny:
    Ronny TX: You ramble on and on but preach the same old division and “superior being” mindset crap that has always plagued humanity…as you stand there on you’re platitude of conceit, spouting your arrogance, and hiding behind a false name with no face. Ronny, all you’re doing is illustrating the mindset of an anti-Christian, or as it’s understood clinically: A Psychopath.

    Ronny to GW:
    Actually GW,I don’t post with my full name,because there are people like you online. People,who I perceive are not quite all here in the head and spouts hatred for anyone who disagrees with anything they say. And you see GW,I’m for freedom of speach and conscience,no matter if I disagree with the other person,on this or that point. And no,I don’t think I’m a superior being,as you say I do. For in fact,I know I’m not. What am I? Simply one person,who had been born of God. And as I see it,before all is said and done,we shall all be born of God. And since all we have and are,is of God/Jesus Christ,then I,you or no one, has any room,right or reason to think highly of ourself and look down on anyone.

  • RonnyTX

    GW to Ronny:
    How sad for the soul that cannot feel love, mercy, empathy or compassion, for likewise they cannot feel guilt, shame or remorse, can never repent their transgressions and therefore never know forgiveness.

    Ronny to GW:
    Wrong GW,for there will never be a person,who doesn’t know of God’s forgiveness of them,by way of Jesus Christ and the cross. For it is God who will show each person their sin,bring them to repentance and show them they have been so loved and forgiven,by way of Jesus Christ and the cross. :-) Now we can do none of that for ourself;but what we can’t do,God can do and will do,for each and every last one of us. :-) And when we all get to heaven,what a day of rejoicing that will be. When we all see Jesus,we’ll sing and shout the victory! :-)

  • RonnyTX

    GW:
    The Christian Dilemma:

    The greatest threat to America, and indeed to the rest of world, at this point in history, comes from the staunch advocates of right wing ideology,

    Ronny to GW:
    Actually GW,when you look at the long picture,such people are no threat to anyone. Why? Because God is in full control,of all things. So you see,why we may not like somethings going on in the here and now and while we should speak out against that which we know is wrong,still in the end all will be well for everyone. Why and how? Because of that simple truth,that God/Jesus Christ,is in control of all things. :-)

    GW:
    and I must submit this warning to you: There is a grave problem with the right wing movement, in that; they seem to possess a distorted sense of entitlement. They’ve set themselves apart, and seem to think that their faith gives them the right to view the world from a platitude of conceit, through condescending eyes, and with a false sense of superiority. They actually believe themselves to be superior beings, with a manifest destiny and some strange notion that God is on their side. A people with a desire to conquer, under the false guise of Christianity, seeking to dominate in the name of Christ, their view of humanity being reduced to nothing more than a matter of “us” and “them”.

    Ronny:
    So,such people are wrong,when they hold themself up so high and look down on others,who don’t see everything their way;but GW,this is not only a problem of some people on the right wing;but also of those on the left wing. For as I see it,none of us have a right to look down or think outself better than anyone. Why not? Because all we have and all we are,is of God. So,if we’re going to brag about anything,let us brag about what Jesus Christ has done for all people,on the cross! :-) For there,he took the sins of us all,upon himself and reconciled us all,back to God the Father. :-)

    GW:
    What they fail to realize is; if the Christ you believe in leads you to view other humans as lesser beings, then you are a follower of the anti-Christ.

    Ronny:
    That’s true;but then what’s just as true,is that God will bring each person out of that false mindset. And God doing that for each person,at the time of God’s choosing.

    GW:
    The plain truth is; God doesn’t have a religion and God doesn’t discriminate. Any religion that professes to be the only true religion,or that they‘re special in the eyes of God preaches false doctrine. If the Spirit of God is truly with you, it will only be known by acts of “unconditional” love and charity. No religion can claim exclusive rights to God. He belongs to all that He has created, and to foster a belief in “us” and“them” is to divide humanity, not unite it.

    Ronny:
    I agree,that we are not to divide humanity and that because we are all the offspring/children of God. And at the time God chooses,each person will know that,as they are born of God. :-)

    GW:
    And so it will be, in The End, that those who have set themselves apart from their fellow man will find that they have set themselves apart from God. The worth of a soul will only be measured by how much it has loved, nothing more, nothing less. Woe to those who have taken the widow’s mite and built castles and empires in His name. They have incurred a great accountability, their suffering will be unending.

    Ronny:
    GW,you could also add,woe unto those,who have not loved their enemies. For we were all once the enemies of Jesus Christ,yet he loved us all so much,he went to the cross for each and everyone of us,took all of our sins upon himself and in that way,reconciled us all back to God the Father. :-) And remember,Jesus Christ tells us we are to follow him. So we are to love all people,just as he did and does. Yet none of us do that perfectly;but the good news is,God is not yet though,working on any of us. :-) But when God is,we will all be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. Then,we will all love,just as Jesus Christ has loved us all and will always continue to love us. :-) This,Jesus Christ has done and will do for us all,so no, there is no unending suffering for anyone.

    GW:
    Even Jesus will not claim to be Christian, but will only proclaim the glory of the Father. And when He returns they will shout: “Here we are Lord!” And He will respond: “I never knew you”. They have forsaken the Word and have become prisoners of the Numbers.

    Ronny:
    And just as surely as they have been prisoners of the one, just as surely,they will be freed by God/Jesus Christ. :-) For that is Who has or will free all. And that is the exact reason,that one of us have right,room or reason,to look down on anyone. For all we are and all we have,is of God/Jesus Christ. So,we have no room to brag at all and no room to look down on anyone.

    GW:
    Those who have put themselves first will be last.

    Ronny:
    Yes,some will enter the kingdom of God last;but all will enter. Because of our/their good works? No,but because of the love,mercy and grace of God/Jesus Christ and that for us all. For everyone,from Adam on down. :-)

  • G. W. Markle

    Matthew 7:21-23New King James Version (NKJV)
    I Never Knew You
    21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

  • QueenMab, I now have a blog with some of my God musings on it. It’s at http://www.flyinginthespirit.cuttys.net . No pressure.

  • QueenMab

    Tony. Hi. Thanks. I went to your blog. Tried to comment, but it won’t let me. Wanted you to know that I am reading it. Thanks for the link. ~mab

  • Guy Norred

    Actually Tony, I was going to let you know the same thing. I tried to comment but could only figure out that I didn’t have an account, not at all how to get one.

  • No problem, thanks for looking. I’ve now fixed the blog so that people can comment. I’m a bit of a newbie at blogging, you see :)

  • Casey Sanders

    It seems your faith is built upon lies of the society and government. You obviously never crack open the bible to read the truth about these lies you tell others. On judgment day you will be sorry that you lied to gay people because many of them need to be set free from the bondage of sin. This is why the suicide rate is so high among them. Christians don’t seek them out to hurt them. Their own conscience does that because the bible says that God wrote on our hearts His moral codes in the beginning with Adam. You’re definitely NOT a disciple or follower of Jesus Christ. Satan has completely fooled you and has you exactly where he wants you. Why don’t you stop the lying and actually read God’s word. It will cause a heart change because the Holy Spirit is the Only one that can break thru this spirit of deception you’re perpetuating. IT’S NOT OF MY HEAVENLY FATHER. KNOW THAT.

  • disqus_NPAlq82CXw

    well, i would say that Christianity is just the inevitable product of man, in response to the divine; which is not acceptable to God. Christ came to be our “Government,” not to found a religion, imo.